It's already causing death, chaos, and state failure.
*Seemingly small global temperature increases are already having huge impacts, including intensified drought, flooding, and severe weather. As the American Association for the Advancement of Science put it, “We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.” Even the early effects of climate change are already rendering millions of people homeless. As temperatures have warmed, tropical diseases such as West Nile Virus have moved North.
*As sea levels rise, glaciers melt, oceans acidify, forests die, farmland turns into desert, refugees cross borders, and diseases proliferate, our hyper-connected human civilization has become increasingly unstable. Regional water, food, and resource scarcity have helped breed civil unrest and terrorism in Africa and the Middle East. We are already seeing this devastation take place in Syria, where an epic drought led impoverished farmers to rebel against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian civil war is steadily engulfing ever greater swaths of the Middle East. American fighter jets are now dropping bombs on Syria in an attempt to contain the chaos.
*The threat climate change poses to agriculture is particularly daunting. Climate change is already contributing to global food price shocks and will continue to negatively impact the global food supply as warming accelerates. Floods, invasive species, and increasing freshwater scarcity also threaten harvests across the planet.
*Past civilizations have collapsed under the weight of mass agricultural failure. The culprit? Natural climate changes, which unfolded significantly more slowly and gradually than contemporary, man-made climate change.
Overview of the existential threat:
- David Roberts' 15-minute video “Climate Change is Simple”:
Climate change is already causing a host of negative impacts:
Climate change causes major national security risks:
- The Military Advisory Board, a group of 16 retired 3 and 4 star general’s report generals, “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change”
- Department of Defense: 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap [PDF]
Climate change is a threat to civilization:
- Paul and Anne Erlich’s article in the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, "Can a Global Collapse of Civilization be Avoided?"
- Lester Brown explains the overwhelming stressors to civilization in his book World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse. [PDF available free from the Earth Policy Institute]
Climate change has caused the collapse of past civilizations: